Red fox Labrador retriever sitting in the field

Red Fox Labradors: Traits, Controversy, Puppy Cost & More

You’ve likely heard of the Black Labrador, the Yellow Labrador, and the Chocolate Labrador, but the Fox Red Labrador?

This rare dog is absolutely gorgeous but comes with a surprising share of controversy. Still, they are loyal and energetic and make wonderful family pets. Whether you’re thinking of welcoming a Fox Red Lab into your home, or you are just interested in these beautiful dogs, we have all the information you are looking for below.

young red fox Labrador retriever lying in grass

Even though their color isn’t officially recognized, red fox labradors are highly sought after dogs.

History of the Fox Red Labrador Retriever 

The Labrador Retriever gets its name from Newfoundland & Labrador, the Canadian province where they were first bred as gundogs. Labrador Retrievers eventually made their way to Great Britain, where breeders focused more on improving their temperaments and conformation.

But in Canada and the United States, Labs continued to be a top choice of hunters to retrieve ducks, geese, and other hunted waterfowl. It’s likely that the Labradors that would become known as Fox Red Labradors existed even during the breed’s earliest days.

However, they were almost certainly extremely rare because neither “Fox Red,” nor their alternative descriptor “Ruby” are included among the breed’s traditional colors in any breed registries. Some even believe that these rare red dogs may have been culled, or killed, in order to keep them out of breeding lines.

It is possible that those who bred Labradors as hunting dogs in places like North America weren’t as bothered by the puppies and dogs who were reddish in color. If this is the case, then it’s thanks to these tolerant hunters that Red Fox Labradors still exist.   

Labrador Retrievers have been a popular choice of dog for over one hundred years now. In fact, the Lab (in all its colors) currently ranks as the most popular dog breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Although some hunters still use Labs for their retrieval skills, most Labradors are companions, family dogs, or other types of working dogs. Fortunately, this shift in their use has allowed Labs with other coat colors to become more common. Unfortunately, some of these coat colors remain cloaked in controversy.     

The Controversial Red Fox Labrador 

Labrador Retrievers come in a variety of colors, some of which are more officially accepted than others. According to the American Kennel Club, the only breed standard colors are Black, Chocolate, and Yellow. This very clearly leaves out the Silver Labrador and the White Labrador, both of which do exist and can be highly sought after.

Both silver labs and white labs are very controversial amongst Labrador Retriever purists, the major breed registries, and judges at dog shows.  However, the case of the Red Fox color, or Ruby color, isn’t as clear cut. Officially, Fox Red Terriers are just Yellow Labs.

The AKC even states that Yellow Labs “may range in color from fox-red to light cream.” But there’s no question that Red Fox Labradors face a lot of discrimination in show rings and other performance-based events. There are even some who refuse to acknowledge the Fox Red Labrador as a purebred Lab.

These naysayers argue that the Fox Red Labrador is actually the result of breeding a Lab with another breed, namely a Vizsla or a Rhodesian Ridgeback. However, this has been proven false over and over again. If you plan on showing your Yellow Labrador Retriever in any discipline, then you may prefer to find a Labrador with a more traditional, lighter shade of yellow, rather than a dark yellow or the darker shade of the fox red color. 

5 Red Fox Labradors in a field

Photo: Country Life

How to Recognize a Red Fox Labrador 

All Labradors share the same general appearance. They are large dogs, who usually end up weighing anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds, and standing around 24 inches in height. Female Labradors are typically smaller than male Labradors, though not by much. 

Labradors’ stocky bodies, thick tail, and webbed toes make them very powerful dogs both in the water and out. As previously mentioned, the most common colors for Labradors are black, chocolate, and yellow, though red, silver, and white are also popular.

Purebred Labrador Retrievers are almost always one solid color, with no white markings. Because a Red Fox Lab is no different than a Black Lab or a Chocolate Lab, you can recognize a Fox Red Lab simply by its red color variation. Though Red Fox Labradors are sometimes confused with dogs of the Vizsla breed, Labradors usually have shorter ears and stockier bodies than the popular Hungarian dog.

Fox Red Labrador Personality and Temperament 

The American Kennel Club uses words like “active,” “outgoing,” and “friendly” to describe the personality of the Labrador Retriever, and Fox Red Labs are no different. Most Fox Red Labs are eager to please their human companions.

They are very loyal, and enjoy being with their humans whether the activity is playing or cuddling. Properly socialized Labs are usually very gentle with cats and other small animals, too.      

Are Fox Red Labradors Easy to Train? 

Along with Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers are some of the most commonly used working dogs. They are often trained for police work, or as service dogs or therapy dogs. The prominence of Labradors as working dogs has to do with the fact they are a highly intelligent breed.

Fox Red Labradors are no different. Your Fox Red Labrador will likely be very easy to train thanks to its cleverness and overwhelming eagerness to please. Keep in mind, this intelligence can mean trouble, though. Lessons in new skills, obedience refresher courses, and lots of brain toys are the keys to keeping your Fox Red Labrador’s brain active and healthy.     

Are Fox Red Labradors Good Family Dogs?

Labrador Retrievers are America’s most popular dog for a good reason. Their playful personalities and gentle natures make them excellent family dogs. However, Labs are strong dogs, which is important to remember if they will be spending a lot of time with people who are very young or very old. 

It is also extremely important that all parents teach their children how to respect dogs. Even the gentlest dog can nip or bite when it is startled awake, has its food taken away, or is hurt by a child pulling on its ears or tail.  

How Long Do Fox Red Labradors Live?

Fox Red Labradors have the same expected lifespan of any other Labrador Retriever. On average, Labs live 10-12 years. Healthy Labs who are loved and sufficiently exercised are very capable of living to age 12 and beyond. Trauma, neglect, and genetic health issues are common reasons for a Labrador Retriever to live fewer than 10 years. 

Fox red labrador retriever in autumn

Veterinarian care can be expensive so it’s not a bad idea to invest in pet insurance for your Lab!

How to Take Care of Your Fox Red Labrador

Taking excellent care of your Fox Red Labrador should always be a priority. Dogs who are well taken care of live long and happy lives. They also make happier companions!  

Puppy Care

During the first 8-16 weeks of your Fox Red Labrador’s life, your puppy should visit a veterinarian and receive its vaccinations. Two weeks after its final jabs, your Lab puppy will be able to touch the ground outside without the risk of catching parvo and other potentially dangerous viruses. 

During this time, you can also begin socializing your new puppy. Carefully introduce your Fox Red Lab puppy to as many people and animals as you possibly can. Puppies who are well socialized become friendlier, less nervous, and sometimes less aggressive dogs.   

Grooming

Like other Labs, the Fox Red Labrador has a double coat to keep it warm in cold climates. This means it will shed much more than usual during the colder months. During this time, it might be a good idea to make a couple of appointments with a professional groomer. 

Throughout the warmer months, however, brushing your Lab’s coat once or twice a week is likely to prove sufficient.  

Exercise 

Labrador Retrievers are extremely athletic dogs. You will often see them working as hunting dogs and gun dogs, or competing in all sorts of agility tests. Because Labs have so much energy, it’s important that Labrador owners find ways in which their dogs can exercise safely. 

Dogs who aren’t allowed to expend their energy will find other ways to stay active. Usually, their ways are much more destructive to household objects, but can result in injury to your dog, too. You will want to take your Labrador Retriever for at least one long walk or run each day.

Walking will allow your dog to work its muscles, while sniffing will allow your dog to work its brain. Other great ways to allow your Lab to exercise include hiking, swimming in a lake or backyard pool, or spending the day at doggy daycare. For brain exercise, search Amazon for things like treat puzzles, slow feeders, and other clever dog toys.  

Food & Care

It is very important to maintain a healthy diet for your Fox Red Labrador. Unlike other types of animals, including humans, a Lab’s body is not able to tell when it is full. Thus, your Lab will always be in the mood for a snack! Insist on feeding your Fox Red Lab at regular feeding times, and a daily total of about three cups of dry dog food.

The feed you choose should be: 

And don’t forget to brush your Lab’s teeth at least once per week! 

Common Health Issues of Fox Red Labradors 

In general, Labrador Retrievers of all colors are healthy and hardy dogs. If you are buying your dog from a breeder, it is very important to purchase from a reputable breeder, as nearly all of the most common health issues for Labs are present in their gene pool. 

Like many large breeds, Labrador Retrievers often suffer from hip and/or elbow dysplasia. This is when the bone becomes malformed at the joint. At first, it will cause a little pain and an occasional limp. However, it eventually progresses into very painful arthritis. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is another malady that tends to affect Labradors. This terrible disease eventually leads to blindness, so it may be a good idea to have your Lab periodically examined by a canine ophthalmologist. Another common health issue of Fox Red Labs and other Labrador Retrievers is Exercise Induced Collapse.

This scary health problem results in the loss of muscular control following extreme exercise. Any Labrador Retriever that is being used for breeding should be tested for these three common health problems in Labs.   

Red Fox Labrador Puppies on a lawn

Photo: Keystone Puppies

How Much Does a Fox Red Labrador Cost? 

If you have done your research and decided that a Fox Red Labrador is the right fit for your household, then you are probably wondering how much a Fox Red Lab would cost. To find a Red Lab puppy, you can contact Fox Red Labrador breeders or Yellow Labrador breeders. 

In general, Labrador Retriever puppies cost about $1,000. Because those with a fox-like red coat are much rarer than, say, those with a solid black coat, you should expect to pay quite a bit more — even though many Labrador fans argue that reputable breeders should not ask more money for rarer coat colors. 

Speaking of, it is very important to purchase your Fox Red Lab puppy from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders prioritize the health of their breeding dogs, their puppies, and the overall well-being of the breed. They also contribute less to the population of unwanted pets. Reputable Labrador breeders will:

  • Insist on meeting you in person, and will ask questions to determine if you, your family, and your household are the right fit for their breed
  • Have both parent dogs, and won’t be afraid to show them off  
  • Breed just one type of dog, only one to two times per year
  • Carefully screen the puppy’s parents for any breed-related health issues
  • Provide a health certificate asserting the puppy has been looked over by a vet and is healthy

A Final Word:

Fox Red Labrador Retrievers are exactly that — Labrador Retrievers. If you are thinking of welcoming a Fox Red Lab into your home, then you are very likely to get a large and hardy dog that is incredibly loyal and gentle to all.

However, because a Fox Red Labrador’s red coat is a darker pigment than what the AKC deems acceptable for a Yellow Lab, your Red Lab is likely to be discriminated against in a show ring where its conformation is judged. If, however, you are just looking for a new best friend, then you can’t go wrong with a Fox Red Labrador. 

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Sarah Wagner

Sarah Wagner

Sarah Wagner is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.